by Kyle Beard on Wednesday, June 15th, 2016
Many people ask me what’s the most important part of the recovery journey. I could answer a litany of options such as discipline, motivation, dedication, a recovery plan, and more. All of these are important to recovery, but the truth is there is one aspect that I found cannot ever be absent from a recovery from addiction – an external community of support.
The 12 Step community has an interesting saying: “Your best thinking got you here.” The idea behind the quote is that an addict’s best thinking resulted in an addiction which hurt themselves, others, and a plethora of other negative consequences. The addict’s thought processes and actions led to the problems in their life they are seeking to heal. This quote seems to point out that trying to recover with the same mindset that lead to addiction will end up in the same result. So do any other options exist? I have found there is a simple concept that offers another way, yet one of the most difficult to accept: asking others for help.
Every worthwhile recovery program that I have encountered emphasizes the need for community in the recovery journey for good reason. The truth is, willpower alone fails when trying to combat addiction because it was that willpower and thought processes that lead you to that situation in the first place. Therefore, your thinking alone can’t bring you out of it – you need community. In the past, your inner addict has succumbed when a moment of temptation hits. But when a healthy community is present, there are others to reach out to for help before acting out. When a difficult emotion stirs inside and you are unaware how to handle it well, you can ask someone in your community for help. Community can also give you ideas and resources for those moments when you are home alone and don’t want to act out. These are only a couple examples of the benefits of community in recovery.
I once heard someone in recovery say the telephone is the heaviest piece of furniture in their house. Picking it up to call a friend in recovery can feel like the most difficult task. But the truth in this metaphor is simple. Picking up the phone or even going to a meeting is vulnerable and scary! But what you will find on the other side is something you have been looking for all along, to be loved and accepted by others. And after that first phone call or meeting, I promise the next one is easier.
When we take the first step in reaching out to others for help, we begin to get what we have really been longing for – connection with others. Community is often what we were seeking in our addiction, but never truly experienced it. When we enter into a healthy community of support, we learn we are not alone. You don’t have to have all the answers, but simply need to say, “I need help”. When said to the right people, they respond with love, acceptance, and support. My question for you today is this: who is your community of support? Do you actually rely on them for help, or try to face your addiction by yourself, turning to them as a worst case scenario? Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. By admitting we are humans in need of help, we will find others who crave the same connection.